Agent, Publisher, or Contest? Which would you choose?

Do you love to write? Do you write for publication? Do you dream of publication?

If the answer to any of the above is yes, I guess my next question is which would you rather do,

  • send a query letter to an agent, 
  • send a query letter to a publisher, 
  • or enter a contest?
My first dream was to find an agent. Surely that had to be best - someone else who would do all the hard work of researching places my writing my fit, advertising it so the publisher knows it will fit, and making me sound good. After all, which writer really wants to blow her own horn? But then I learned that researching agents is just as hard as researching publishers, and feels just as much like applying for a job.

Have you applied for a job recently? Then you probably know that feeling of applications disappearing into black holes with no reply. I began to suspect query letters go into the same black holes. So I gave up on option one and option two.

But what about contests? No query letter. Just writing to the prompt. Just doing what I dearly love to do. Except only one person can win, and why should I imagine I'm best of all. I'm good enough, I reckon, but am I that good? Then I found that contests often either cost money or are more like America's Got Talent than the Booker Prize. At least query letters are private and free. I gave up on option three.

Then I started writing book reviews, accidentally researching publishers while noting who published the books, finding places where I might fit while accidentally maybe getting my name know to them, and then my novels and my Bible stories found a home (with Second Wind Publishing and Cape Arago Press respectively). So perhaps that should have been option four. Would you rather:
  • write short stories
  • write your great American novel, or
  • write book reviews?
The bit I've missed out here is that I actually found my first publisher, Gypsy Shadow, through a contest. And I found my latest publisher, Linkville Press, through another. So don't give up. Even if you feel like it. Even if you read blogposts like mine. Even if you're sick of rejections and feel like you'll never succeed...

So... I got an email last week about a contest you might try, if you fancy writing online: A free writing platform called Inkitt is running a contest called Epic Worlds: A New Adventure. According to Inkitt, the site lets you interact with readers, collaborate, trade feedback and ideas, and generally get exposure. I suspect being willing to try to be popular will probably help as well, but hey, anything's worth trying once isn't it - well, as long as it's not actually bad for you.

The contest began on May 6th and closes on June 3rd. It's free, and you can submit any fantasy story up to 15,000 words. There are cash prizes and cover designs on offer, and if you've not tried an online contest, or you need some incentive to write, it just might work for you. If not, you could always write book reviews.


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